Themed Gift Baskets
It's the next best thing to being there. Keep in touch with faraway friends with a gift pack of stationery supplies, such as note paper, postcards, postage stamps, a pen, and sealing wax and a stamp. Also include a prepaid phone card, available from post offices, grocery stores, and discount stores.
Present a bouquet of memories with film, album, storage box, and frame. For the film "flowers," cut a 1/8-inch-diameter dowel into 10-inch lengths, and paint each one green. Use a crafts knife or paring knife to make a small slit in the bottom of each plastic film container. Slip a dowel through the slit and into the center of the roll of film.
For friends headed to the beach or on a cruise, fill a straw hat with sunglasses, magazines or books about their destination, sun block, a disposable camera (panoramic for scenic areas, underwater for scuba divers, or outdoors for the beach), and a travel umbrella for an occasional rainy day.
Inspire a would-be gardener with a pot full of gardening tools and supplies, such as a trowel, pruning shears, gloves, and seed packets for the coming season. For an indoor gardener, fill a terra-cotta saucer with gravel or small pebbles, add a few narcissus bulbs, and wrap the saucer in clear cellophane. Remember to include instructions for forcing: Place the saucer in a sunny spot and add water to just below the base of the bulbs. Keep the water at this level.
Encourage a budding artist with a gift certificate for a class at your local art center or art museum. Assemble the certificate, a class schedule, and a few supplies, and present them on a "palette" made from cardboard (a pizza box works well) and covered with a second copy of the class schedule. Cut two slits in the palette and thread a ribbon through to tie the supplies in place.
Please a pet owner (or the owner's pet) with a new bowl and an assortment of pet treats, toys, grooming supplies, and even a new leash.